Key Hibs duo in race to be fit for the derby

Duncan Watmore is felled by Partick's Prince Buaben.  Paul Hanlon, below
Duncan Watmore is felled by Partick's Prince Buaben. Paul Hanlon, below
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Hibs are facing a sweat over the fitness of Paul Hanlon and Duncan Watmore ahead of Sunday’s derby clash with Hearts after the pair missed the Easter Road club’s latest disappointment, a defeat by St Johnstone which ended their dream of a top-six finish.

Hanlon, who was named the Hibs Supporters Association Player of the Year last night, picked up a knee injury during the previous week’s loss to Partick Thistle which flared up in the days leading up to the trip to McDiarmid Park, while Watmore picked up another foot injury in training.

Now both face a race to be available for the visit to Tynecastle, with Hibs going into the Edinburgh derby knowing victory could condemn their Capital rivals to relegation, but well aware that they themselves have won just once in their last 12 matches.

Boss Terry Butcher said: “Paul’s injury is giving us cause for concern. We’ll have to wait and see if it settles down while Duncan took a hefty bang on his foot.”

A further headache for Butcher was the red card brandished at striker Danny Haynes for trampling over Saints’ David Wotherspoon only minutes after a Ryan McGivern own goal had added to Steve MacLean’s early opener for the Perth outfit, his dismissal ending any hope of a Hibs comeback with more than half-an-hour remaining.

Haynes will now be suspended for Hibs’ next two matches, against Hearts and Scottish League Cup winners Aberdeen with Butcher immediately revealing there will be no appeal as he totally agreed with referee Steven McLean’s decision. He said: “It was definitely a red card. I have sen it a few times and I do not know why he did that. Steven McLean has had an easy decision to make.”

Haynes was on the end of some sharp words from team-mate Kevin Thomson has he left the pitch, the midfielder revealing the on-loan Notts County player had apologised for his actions in the dressing-room. “I said to him he had let the boys down,” disclosed Thomson, “You are 2-0 down and someone does something silly. He apologised but we have all been in these situations, I’ve done it myself so I think he is hurting and is disappointed in himself but we are now going to lose him for a couple of matches which is the bigger disappointment.”

Hibs remain seven points clear of the play-off place after every bottom six side lost at the weekend, but Butcher admitted his side desperately need a win to ease any worries regarding being dragged into a fight to avoid that position. He said: “We certainly need more points, that’s for sure.

“We are in a position where we need to roll up our sleeves, work hard to get out of it and that starts on Sunday with Hearts.”